The benefits of birch
Birch is fast becoming THE detox ingredient to chase away the winter skin blues. Birch trees are quick to grow and suited to all soil types. Add to that, birch's numerous health and skin-friendly benefits. And to top it all, every part of this waste not, want not tree can be used:
- leaves to make birch juice.
- its sap (or water) for active ingredient-packed oral solutions.
- its buds to make a concentrated macerate or essential oils.
- its bark, dried and used in loose or powdered form.
Birch is usually taken as an oral solution (juice or sap), but you'll find birch dietary supplements, creams, lotions and essential oils.
The 5 benefits of birch sap and juice
Birch juice and sap are great for detoxes. Dilute 3 tablespoons of birch juice or sap in 1.5l of water and sip throughout the day. Do this for 3 weeks. This drink has numerous benefits:
- Birch detoxifies and drains the body, by purifying major organs including the kidneys, liver and pancreas. It drains our bodies, getting rid of acid and toxic waste. The result? A healthier body! And when our insides are healthy it shows on the outside - smoother fatty deposits and perfect skin.
- Birch beats blemishes and a birch water detox works wonders for problem skin. This is thanks to birch's powerful purifying, antioxidant properties. It detoxes skin from the inside out - for example, downing a spoon of birch syrup every morning for 3 weeks can greatly reduce acne. Over time it purifies and improves our skin.
- Birch reduces water retention. Cellulite and extra weight can sometimes be linked to water retention. Birch juice's diuretic and draining action flushes out toxins, lessening the appearance of such beauty banes.
- Birch is an energy booster: its antioxidant vitamins B and C support our immune system and skin.
Bursting with magnesium and lithium, birch keeps our spirits high and helps prevent sluggishness.
- Birch helps keep our bones and muscles in good nick and, thanks to active ingredients such as calcium and silicon, can reduce joint pain. And that's not all! Its potassium keeps our hearts healthy and circulation in check.
Bark and buds: the magic of birch
All parts of the birch can be used, so if juice or sap isn't up your street, you can always try its bark or buds.
Steep 20g of birch bark powder in 50cl of boiled water for 10 minutes. Dip a moist cotton bud into the potion and dab it on to liver spots for a natural, lightening effect. Birch bark infusions or compresses can also be topically applied to verrucas, eczema and psoriasis.
Researchers at a German university found that birch bark produces a substance similar to keratinocytes (cells that make up 90% of the epidermis), which can promote healing and cell regeneration. In other words, birch repairs by boosting cell regeneration.
Birch bud macerates can lower cholesterol, whilst infusions boost renal, cardio-renal and liver functions. Boil 150g of birch buds in 1l of water and simmer until reduced by half. Drink three glasses max a day.
Homemade birch treatments
For a cleansing face mist, you'll need:
- 200ml of fresh birch sap
- 1 clove or 5 drops of grapefruit seed extract (to act as a preservative)
- a spray bottle
Shake up the ingredients in the bottle and mist your face each morning.
For a blemish-buster, you'll need:
- 25cl of fresh birch sap or birch water
- an ice cube tray
- 2 small squares of gauze or a thin fabric
Fill the ice cube tray with the sap/water and freeze overnight. The next day, wrap a frozen cube in the fabric and apply to any bags, circles blemishes. It will instantly purify and decongest your skin!
Although birch is packed with goodness, it can have some undesirable side effects:
- stick to recommended doses to avoid potential gastrointestinal problems
- if you're allergic to birch pollen, give this one a miss or you could end up with hives or rashes
- be warned that taking birch can cause an allergic reaction to celery and vice versa!